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Saturday, April 20, 2024

PERMISSION GIVEN FOR CHERWITZ TO FILE A DEFAMATION SUIT AGAINST BBC OVER RECKLESS PODCAST ABOUT WELLNESS COMPANY ONETASTE

Rachel Cherwitz, former OneTaste Sales Director, teacher and addiction counselor is thrilled her defamation claim against the BBC has been allowed permission to proceed. Even though Cherwitz, OneTaste co-founder Nicole Daedone, and OneTaste itself brought their claims outside the prescribed one-year deadline, they requested that the Court exercise its discretion and allow their libel claims against the BBC to proceed alongside IOM and OM IP Co’s existing defamation claims against the BBC.

In a major victory, Cherwitz has succeeded in overturning the time limitation.

Aired in November 2022, the claims arise from a BBC podcast entitled “The Orgasm Cult”. The 10-part series purported to introduce listeners to OneTaste, the organization co-founded by Ms. Daedone in the mid-2000s to promote the practice of Orgasmic Meditation (OM).  However, the BBC podcast introduced a series of distressing, false and fully refutable assertions, some derived from similar untrue accusations originally published by Ellen Huet of Bloomberg Businessweek in 2018.

The misleading stories were presented via the podcast purposefully to suggest wrongdoing by the company, its founder and its leaders. While disappointed that Daedone herself is unable to hold the BBC to account for defamation, notwithstanding the truly horrid falsities levelled at herself and Cherwitz, the organization and its supporters are satisfied that Cherwitz’ claim is allowed to go forward.

Rachel Cherwitz said, “The abuse and ostracizing that I have suffered since the BBC chose to attack me for my work helping women discover their potential has taken a huge toll on me personally, as well as professionally.  My mental health significantly suffered.  My relationships, friendships and professional viability instantly fell apart.”

Cherwitz, a professional drug and alcohol counsellor and certified clinical trauma specialist with a master’s degrees in addiction counseling, was accused in the BBC’s podcast of pushing people toward suicide.

“It was profoundly distressing”, Cherwitz said.  “I am grateful that the Court has allowed me to bring my defamation claim against the BBC, and to work alongside IOM and OM IP Co, to demonstrate the BBC’s fictional narrative and ultimately see the truth made public. I am suing not just for personal vindication, but also for Nicole and for the many thousands of people who put their trust in the OneTaste community.”

OneTaste Founder Nicole Daedone said, “To my mind, notwithstanding a mere four-month delay in bringing my claim (for which there were extenuating circumstances), no broadcaster of repute should be able to spout demonstrably untrue assertions without being challenged.  The truth should matter to a news and media organization.”

“While the High Court has decided not to hear my defamation claim, this does not in any way alleviate the BBC’s responsibility to correct its errors and ensure the facts are put on record. I have said I find bringing defamation proceedings distasteful. Yet despite having in its possession the true facts that unravel the false thread that holds together its podcast, the BBC has been unwilling to do its duty to ensure the public is accurately informed.”

“I always recognized that the very nature of our pioneering work made us vulnerable to attack by those who would choose to misrepresent us. Yet the principle of consent among adults has always been at the heart of our work,” Daedone said.

“Even two years on, it is still deeply distressing to me to hear stories said to be from women, recounted by other women at the BBC – all of which strike at the very essence of who we are, and most of which we know to be wholly false.”

Daedone, who has championed women’s empowerment for decades, said, “I firmly believe women have inestimable power. Together, we hold the world. This is what has been under attack, and furthering women’s solidarity will continue to be my life’s work.”

“So the challenge to the BBC goes on.  We will continue to encourage women to recognize the power of their honest self-expression, while contesting falsehoods that discourage them from standing in their capacities and strengths.”

Anjuli Ayer, from OneTaste said, “I am encouraged that Rachel Cherwitz’s application for an individual libel claim has been approved. The false attack on a woman for entertainment purposes is misogynistic and should not be allowed to continue. Rachel is a courageous individual for taking on a leading global broadcaster that has lost its moral compass.”

Ayer added, “I am thankful to the High Court for having carefully considered our out of time application for a libel claim against the BBC. The same claim continues from our affiliated company the Institute of OM.”

Sara Mansoori KC, barrister said, “In these exceptional circumstances Rachel Cherwitz is now able to challenge the extremely serious allegations made against her, which she has always vehemently denied.”

OneTaste and IOM will continue to encourage women to recognize the power of their honest self-expression, while contesting falsehoods that discourage them from standing in their capacities and strengths.

Claims by IOM and OM IP Co for defamation, claims by Nicole Daedone and Rachel Cherwitz under the Data Protection Act and for misuse of private information continue and are unaffected by today’s judgement.

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